Monthly Archives: December 2013

Book Review: FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

KathyBack in sixth grade, when I couldn’t waaaait for the next Sweet Valley High book to come out, I decided to just go ahead and write my own SVH story. I lost interest after a few pages, but when the real book was finally released a major character died. I felt responsible – how dare I try to take over for Francine Pascal’s ghostwriters? RIP, Regina Morrow.

That remains my only attempt at writing fanfiction — stories using another person’s characters and world. Still, I knew I wanted to read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl the minute I heard about it. It’s the story of Cath, who’s starting college along with her twin sister, Wren. Both girls are huge Simon Snow fans (a book/movie series along the lines of Harry Potter). Or at least they were – once they get to school, Wren is off partying with her new roommate, leaving Cath on her own to finish writing her fanfic epic. To say that Cath has trouble adjusting to college would be putting it mildly.

Why Introverts Should Read This Book

Because you will recognize yourself in Cath, even if you’ve never heard of fanfiction. She’s a hardcore introvert and there were so many times I identified with her, whether she was staying up late to write instead of going out drinking, trying to figure out whether a guy was flirting or just being friendly, or stashing protein bars under her bed so she could avoid the dining hall.

If you’ve been to college, I’m betting this book will stir up a ton of memories and “me too!” moments. For introverts, I think college can be a major improvement over high school – I got to know people on a deeper level, in a more natural, gradual way because I was living with them. But in other ways it’s a real shock to the system: being with people 24/7, not having the level of privacy you might be used to, being reminded again and again that you are not a go-go-go-all-the-time person. Cath struggles with all of this, but she eventually reaps the benefits of college, too.

Why Extroverts Should Read This Book

For exchanges like the following:

[Cath:] “You give away nice like it doesn’t cost you anything.”

Levi laughed. “It doesn’t cost me anything. It’s not like smiling at strangers exhausts my overall supply.”

“Well, it does mine.”

“I’m not you. Making people happy makes me feel good. If anything, it gives me more energy for the people I care about.”

Cath’s roommate’s friend Levi is the quintessential extrovert – even though Cath doesn’t get his personality at first, Rowell definitely does. I loved how there was no extrovert-bashing in Fangirl, just a series of great explorations of how different types of people interact, confuse each other, and try to get along.

Why Parents Should Read This Book

So you can pass it on to your kids when you’re done! Or save it for when they’re ready. This would be a great senior-year read, so I’m holding on to my copy for Doodlebug. Okay fine, and I might reread it five or ten times before then.

Bonus Materials

Rainbow Rowell posts fan art, interview snippets, and other cool book-related stuff on her Tumblr. Also, if you like Benedict Cumberbatch (and who doesn’t?!) you will be very happy there.


Go read this book. Go read this book! GO READ THIS BOOK! And then come back here so we can fangirl about it together.

— Kathy

Tiffany’s Totally Unscientific Theory About Introverts and Sleep

In which one of the Moms pretends to be something she’s not.


tiffany_head_256Remember our post about sleep? We shared some research that concluded introverts do fine on less sleep while extroverts hit the wall without enough shuteye. This is largely due to the way our brains are wired and how we respond to certain stimuli. At the end I theorized introverts need more sleep than extroverts, contrary to the study results.

Because, you know, I am a scientist.

My theory has been somewhat refined thanks largely to this brilliant visual. Here goes:  the more time I spend outside my hamster ball the more sleep I need.

Being outside that ball exhausting. Having people reach inside that ball is exhausting. For introverts, as we all know, this is akin to hooking up our internal battery to some giant, power-sucking device (this comes to mind) and letting it drain our battery right down to empty. 

I’ve observed if I don’t get adequate recharge time physical exhaustion is sure to follow.  Ignoring the tired leads to illness and before I know it I’m bowled over by a sore throat, a sinus infection, or some other respiratory nastiness. And we all know if Mommy is sick everyone suffers.

As a result of this earth-shattering knowledge I have taken a few steps to address the fatigue issue:

1.  Limiting gluten. “So trendy!” you might think. Honestly, however, reducing it has made my energy levels noticeably higher. My legendary ability to consume massive amounts of sweets is going to make holiday baking a challenge this year but in 2014 I plan to eliminate gluten entirely.

2.  Scheduling bedtime. Usually I’m in bed by 9:30 p.m. and read until 10.  Does this happen every night? No. (Damn you, New Yorker magazine!) But the more I stick to the schedule the more rested I feel. And 30 minutes of reading is a good way to transition between being outside the hamster ball and going back in.

3.  Redefining weekend time. This was a tough one but running around like the proverbial poulet sans tête on Saturdays and Sundays does not equal recharging. I am happy to do my chores and spend time with the kids, but at a certain point I need to sit down and be still. It is helpful to make lists, of course, and to set a “Busy Work” time limit.

4.  Taking naps. One per weekend if possible. My body tells me how long to sleep:  sometimes it’s only 30 minutes while other times it’s a two and a half hour monster snooze with Lunchbox.

5.  Drinking water. Tiredness is an easily overlooked symptom of dehydration, and while drinking a lot of water is easy at work it is difficult at home. Thus a new rule:  every time I go into the kitchen (which is A LOT) I drink a glass.

Fellow introverts, have you noticed this about yourselves?  If so how do you cope?

Off to get more H²0.

— Tiffany


Dear Princess Celestia…

Doodlebug and Princess Slim love their “My Little Pony.” The dolls, the play sets, and of course the television show, called “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.”

The Moms like how the show focuses on friendship and being true to yourself, and the episodes often end with the ponies recapping what they’ve learned. So what have we, as introverts, learned about friendship so far?

P.S. Want to know which pony you are? There’s a fun quiz here.

Twilight Sparkle and Twilight Sparkle (Yep, we took the quiz!)


KathyConsider this the next stanza in Tiffany’s Ode to the Internet from a few weeks ago – although social media can be addictive and a huge time-waster for me, I love how it helps me keep old friendships alive and nurture new ones.

I’m definitely someone who likes to gather her thoughts before speaking, who doesn’t jump into conversations, who is quiet in a crowd. But, like many introverts, I’m much more myself online, where I can interact at my own pace. It’s not that I’m trying to hide who I am in real life, it’s just that I find it a lot easier to type, rather than talk, about things that are important to me. (Exhibit A: this blog!)

Facebook, despite all its flaws, has become my online home. Twitter moves too fast, and while I love it for stalking (um, following) my favorite authors, I’d rather interact with people I know. I so wish Facebook had been around when Doodlebug was tiny, because it would have been a perfect outlet for me when I didn’t have enough energy to call a friend, let alone get my act together and leave the house for lunch.

I’m lucky to have a great group of Facebook friends (and family) – there are very, very few “Look how awesome I am!” posts and lots of cool photos, funny anecdotes, thought-provoking but civil discussions about politics and society, and obsessive threads about Sherlock, Downton Abbey, or Harry Potter. (Did you get the stamps? You’ve got to get the stamps!)

And while it’s a great place to keep up with my high school and college friends, Facebook is the perfect place to get to know new acquaintances almost effortlessly. Sometimes it turns out we don’t have much in common, but other times I’ve lucked out and ended up with true friends. Or, in one case, a friend plus a blogging partner. All together now – awww!

— Kathy

tiffany_head_128Facebook tells me I have 452 friends. I find this astonishing. In fact, one of the 452 recently called me out and asked “How can you call yourself an introvert with 452 friends?” Good question. Depends on one’s definition of “friend.”

The majority of those 452 people are from previous parts and periods of my life.  I deeply enjoy and value staying in touch with all these folks and keeping up with gossip and kids and life’s ups and downs. My philosophy of friendship, however, is more consistent with this George Washington quote:  “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

But let’s say, God forbid, something terrible happens in the middle of the night. Would I reach out of any of those 452 people? Probably not. While the two or three people I would call (excluding family) are included in that number they don’t use the site much. We don’t talk on the phone every day, nor do we email or chat or interact on a regular basis. This may not sound like much of a friendship, you might be thinking. No girl talk? No bellyaching about work or spouses? Wha??

This type of atypical relationship works beautifully for a few reasons. First, these inner-circle friends are mostly introverts as well, thus we respect each other’s need for space and connect – virtually or in person – if we’re up to it. Second, of course the girl talk and bellyaching happens. Perhaps unfortunately for these select few friends, they are the people I call sobbing when work has been shit or when I need a proofreader or someone to tell me that yes, my ass looks huge in that dress and it should never be worn again. Just because we don’t chit chat every fifteen minutes doesn’t mean we aren’t there to support each other in our own quiet, unobtrusive way.

Finally, I am so wiped out by the end of the day (let alone by the end of the week) it is all I can do to get home and get through the 5 to 8:30 p.m. madness. Forget happy hour, forget going shopping on the weekend, forget anything that involves a crush of people or traffic. Will I text these few people until the sun comes up? Yes.  Write long emails to them? Yes. And they will do the same because they are drained too. And I’ll feel as if the time has been well spent and that we are good.

For what it’s worth there is an extrovert in this tiny group. One of the reasons I love her to bits is that I can say, straight to her face, “That’s it. I’m ready to be by myself now.” And she gets it.

True friend, indeed.

—  Tiffany